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After hits like Krack and Vakeel Saab, Telugu film industry on backfoot again amid Covid-19 surge  

Films of some of the big star have already been postponed this month as Covid-19 surge continues, including Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi's Love Story and Nani's Tuck Jagadish.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
April 14, 2021 8:20:47 am
Vakeel Saab is the remake of Bollywood film Pink.

Amid a surge in the coronavirus cases, the Telugu film industry is on the back foot again  The industry stakeholders are in a tight spot as there is a growing buzz about the government restrictions that could affect the box office in the Telugu states. Maharashtra has already put a stop on all TV and film shooting, with theatres closed down, the government announced on Tuesday.

Compared to other states, the Telugu states saw a massive jump in terms of business at the box office. Permission for 100 per cent occupancy in the theatres was a contributing factor. However, the second wave of the CovidD-19 infections has fuelled conjectures that the governments in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh might bring back the 50 per cent cap on the occupancy. “Producers will not release big films if 100 per cent occupancy is withdrawn,” said producer DVV Danayya.

Danayya is presently bankrolling the multilingual period drama RRR, which is directed by SS Rajamouli. With an estimated budget of Rs 400 crore, RRR stars some of the biggest stars of the Indian film industry, including Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Alia Bhatt, and Ajay Devgan among others. “I hope that the industry leaders will discuss with the respective governments and decide what’s best for the industry,” he added.

Danayya confirmed that the shooting of RRR is complete. He also added that there is no plan to postpone the release from October 13 as yet.

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Since January this year, things started looking up for the Telugu film industry. Films like Krack, Uppena and even the small-budget satire Jathi Ratnalu drew people to theatres in huge numbers despite the pandemic.

“Cases are increasing but it has not stopped people from coming out. We saw how theatres were full when Vakeel Saab was released. The day that film was released, there were more than 1 lakh cases reported in India. It shows that if the film is good, it will make a good collection irrespective of the pandemic or 50 per cent occupancy,” said producer Tammareddy Bharadwaja.

While the 50 per cent occupancy rule has been in force in Kerala since the state government allowed theatres to re-open in January, the governments in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had permitted the theatres to function at their full capacity. However, following the resurgence of the Covid-19 infections, the government withdrew this permission. Telugu states may also revert to 50 per cent rule if the rise in numbers continues.

“The industry is still reeling under the Covid-19 impact as not all people are willing to go to theatres. The producers of Vakeel Saab had already committed and so they released it. Say, the film would have the potential to collect Rs 100 crore, at the current circumstances, it will only gross Rs 80 crore. Even if the 50 per cent cap on occupancy comes back, those who want to release the film will go ahead. And those who want 100 per cent occupancy will wait. It all depends on the producers,” said producer Bekkam Venugopal.

Some of the big star films have already been postponed this month. Love Story, starring Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi, was supposed to release on April 16. And Nani’s Tuck Jagadish was slated for April 23 release. However, producers of both the films have withheld the release citing growing cases of COVID-19 infections.

(With inputs from Gabbeta Ranjith Kumar)

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